NFJS Session 1: Developing Rich Internet Applications

So, I chickened out of attending the Spring + JPA + Hibernate session… party because I know how to use it a little and partly due to the knowledge there would be strong pushback since we had previously used Hibernate at work. With that in mind, I decided to attend Developing Rich Internet Appications with Richard Monson Haefel.

The beginning was a little boring… but only because I wasn’t learning anything new… but I am sure it was interesting for those who were completely new to rich internet applications and wanted an overview of what was availble. I did learn one thing interesting though… JAWS, the java based screen reader for blind people has the capability to read applets and flash (specifically, Flex) applications. Something interesting to note when it comes to accessibility and section 508 compliance… although I still refrain from Flex due to the “plugin problem” … but it may be useful if developing a rich application that transcends the basic web technologies (video comes to mind).

A little interest was picked up midway when he introduced Silverlight and XUL. Silverlight has became interesting with Nokia’s announcement of supporting Silverlight on SymbianOS so it will definitely see some more market penetration in the future. I was very pleased he mentioned XUL… not too many people are aware of the application framework built into firefox. It seems like some have almost forgotten completely about XUL.

Curl was new to me… I had heard of curl before, as cURL. I almost hate the framework already for making me confused why a library for fetching content from remote URLs on linux is being presented as an RIA. But I’ll give it a look. 😉

The presentation ended with a comparison of the different RIA available, the pros/cons and things to consider when choosing which is best for your application.

What I’d Like to Have Seen More Of?

I would have liked to see a lot more demos of “AJAX” toolkits…. I wanted to feel awed again like I did the first time I saw ExtJS or I wanted to stand amazed at what was being shown to me. I didn’t get that feeling… for me it felt like 2005 all over again.

I also would have liked to see some more frameworks in the client/server space. AJAX has blurred the boundry between web applications and desktop applications, even more so with applications built for Google Gears or Adobe AIR that allow applications based on javascript, HTML, and CSS to run offline, without a dependency on a server, or use a server in the traditional Client/Server sense.

Ending Thoughts

The first day of NFJS (especially the first sessions) is usually geared towards people who haven’t heard of these technologies… in fact there were a lot of people in the presentaton that asked lots of questions and probably got a lot out of it. For someone developing AJAX applications since 2004 it was kind of a poor choice (unless you took a prolonged break and didn’t know what is out there now).

  • Richard Monson-Haefel

    Hi James,

    Great feedback on my session “Developing Rich Internet Applications”. This type of feedback helps me tune the presentation to better meet the needs of the audience.

    You are absolutely right that it is really intended for people who know very little about RIA. However, you are also right that I need more interesting demos – I’ll make sure I have them ready before the Minneapolis show on March 14th.

    The whole cURL/Curl thing is confusing. The Curl platform is a RIA product. The cURL open source project is a unix/linux utility for fetching data using URLs. They were created by different people for different purposes.

    The Curl platform that I work with is actually a lot older than the cURL utility. My Curl ( was created in 1995, is trademarked in a dozen countries, and we’ve owned the domain since before the cURL project was started. The confusion is unfortunate, but the cURL utility is pretty useful for stuff completely different from the Curl RIA technology and I think (hope) they can co-exist.

    Anyway, I hope that clarifies that issue. I’m looking forward to incorporating your feedback into my presentation so that next weekend I cooler demos to show people.

    All the best,

    Richard Monson-Haefel

  • James Carr


    I think it would have been very interesting to see a quick demo of curl, especialy since I had never heard of it before.

    Another thing my coworker who attended said is that she felt it would have been better to see some small homemade apps to see the code, or at least see some code snippets of the different languages for RIA.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the feedback… I was a little afraid it might come off negative since I didn’t get much out of the presentation, but then again I wouldn’t have gotten much out of the groovy sessions yesterday either. 😉